Are Good-aligned metallic dragons seeing less use by DMs?

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It seems to me that in almost every game I've been a player in these days, metallic dragons are often depicted as only slightly less evil than their chromatic counterparts. In the last game I DM'd the players became extremely wary around a Lawful Good gold dragon that genuinely wanted to help the PCs fight against an entrenched cult of Tiamat in Skuld (Mulhorand was not destroyed in my Faerun). And I can count other times when I would introduce a metallic dragon and the PCs would either attack it on sight or be overly cautious with them.

Would it seem that Good-aligned metallic dragons are dwindling in games these days?
Personally I've never used truly 'good' dragons, dragons are sentient beings, they're as much in the grey area as any other race. But they all share a view on the fleeting lives of mortal races as we look at ants or dayflies, unless a mortal truly distinguishes himself as extraordinary a dragon doesn't care whether he lives or dies.
So far, the only metallic dragon my players have encountered ended up as part of their group. I'm not sure if I ever consciously picked an alignment for him, but he would have been either Good or Lawful Good.

In general, if I use a metallic dragon, it's practically never Evil/Chaotic Evil. Its actual alignment depends on what kind of dragon it is, and what encounters it has had with mortals before. If it's a gold who rules a remnant of Arkhosia, it's probably Good or Lawful Good. If it's an iron dragon living in the wilderness without contact with other sentient beings, it's probably Unaligned.
dragons in general are kind of dwindling in my games bc in 4e they were really, really weak to start with and even updated dont pose the kind of threat i want; i want complete unabashed fear if i put a dragon in the game. i have edited a couple for use in my own games but they dont have a big presence 
In our current campaign, dragons are much less concerned with good and evil than the rest of the world seems to be. Our dragons are societally lawful neutral, with individual dragons running the full gamut. But to an outsider, they almost all seem purely neutral.

With their longevity, they see things on a much less immediate scale. A good dragon may be looking at the immediate good, the long-term good, the greater good, or even the selfish good when making a given decision. A wise dragon will balance all of these. A foolish dragon may sacrifice any one of these for another.

"In game" our dragons' decisions don't seem to fit the normal definitions of good and evil used by lesser beings.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
It seems to me that in almost every game I've been a player in these days, metallic dragons are often depicted as only slightly less evil than their chromatic counterparts. In the last game I DM'd the players became extremely wary around a Lawful Good gold dragon that genuinely wanted to help the PCs fight against an entrenched cult of Tiamat in Skuld (Mulhorand was not destroyed in my Faerun). And I can count other times when I would introduce a metallic dragon and the PCs would either attack it on sight or be overly cautious with them.

Would it seem that Good-aligned metallic dragons are dwindling in games these days?

You gotta understand..if its in the monster manual, its ment to be fought, not reasoned with.  That's part of why all metalic dragons are now normally neutral, not normally good.  Same reason Angels arn't all good anymore.


So of course most DMs and most PCs will be expecting a fight..that's why its there, to fight it.  It honestly takes a different mindset of PCs to want to talk with em.
I occasionally use a larger, more powerful Dragon as an NPC. I usually keep the Chromatic Dragons as villians, but I probably have room for a Bronze or a Steel dragon in my current game...
> That's part of why all metalic dragons are now normally neutral, not normally
> good.

That's why the Monster Manual presents the non-good metallic dragons that the party fights. The good ones that the party doesn't fight don't need stat blocks.
> That's part of why all metalic dragons are now normally neutral, not normally
> good.

That's why the Monster Manual presents the non-good metallic dragons that the party fights. The good ones that the party doesn't fight don't need stat blocks.

See?  Just as I said.

Everything in that book is there to fight!  So stop trying to reason with them, stop trying to make them into non fighting encounters.  And get to fighting.  Cause come on..isn't combat the best thing about D&D ever?
Everything in that book is there to fight!  So stop trying to reason with them, stop trying to make them into non fighting encounters.  And get to fighting.  Cause come on..isn't combat the best thing about D&D ever?

I initially thought your first post was helpful, but the follow-up casts it in a slightly different [torch] light.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
> That's part of why all metalic dragons are now normally neutral, not normally > good. That's why the Monster Manual presents the non-good metallic dragons that the party fights. The good ones that the party doesn't fight don't need stat blocks.

See?  Just as I said.

Everything in that book is there to fight!  So stop trying to reason with them, stop trying to make them into non fighting encounters.  And get to fighting.  Cause come on..isn't combat the best thing about D&D ever?



The books are called Monster Manuals for a reason. That said it takes about 5 minutes for any DM to simply think up a reason and a persona for a non-combat dragon to act as an NPC.

If I need stats for the dragon I look in the book, if I need an NPC to just talk to the players I use my brain.
Everything in that book is there to fight!  So stop trying to reason with them, stop trying to make them into non fighting encounters.  And get to fighting.  Cause come on..isn't combat the best thing about D&D ever?

I initially thought your first post was helpful, but the follow-up casts it in a slightly different [torch] light.



yep
I agree with the 'dragons are free-willed sapient beings and have distinct individual personalities' line of thought.
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Oh come on I know most of you have been posting here for at least as long as I have..if not longer.

That was one of the early ones for 4e I'd do, shoulda seen that comming from a mile away.  And its funny how a word of advice can change..based on later context, especially when the advice is the truth .

The entirety of the MM is placed there to be fought, its given stats to be fought, and its expected if you meet one of these critters you will fight them.  If it isn't ment to be fought, then you don't pull up stats for it.  This is also why you don't find good or always good critters (it's assumed the PCs won't fight good creatures in general by wizards).

That's a given for 4e...I just hate that fact.  Just because I'm bitter and sarcastic over the way that works...and yeah..it shows sometimes.  Remember I only play 4e because friends play it..not because I actually enjoy it.  Which is sad...because the way its made, if I put my mind to it and was actually interested in it..its mechanics is exactly how I think, and I still surprise people with the fact I actually know how the system works (which..yeah is part of why I don't like to play it...its odd the people in my group who do enjoy it..know less about how it works than me...)
I've only used 2 Metalic Dragons, one was good, the other more of a neutral. Though from the party's perspective they were both kind of evil. They didn't realize at the time that the guy the gold dragon was keeping sealed away would eventually end up as the BEEG.

The entirety of the MM is placed there to be fought, its given stats to be fought, and its expected if you meet one of these critters you will fight them.  If it isn't ment to be fought, then you don't pull up stats for it.  This is also why you don't find good or always good critters (it's assumed the PCs won't fight good creatures in general by wizards).




This is, alas, true. Not because "they're in the MM", but because 4E chose to describe "monsters" (or NPCs) by their combat statistics, and to leave most of the rest to the DMs. It encourages DMs to think of creatures only as potential ennemies. Of course you don't have to use them only as this - but the way creatures are presented focuses the reader on fighting. It's more a problem of perception, in fact than everything else - wha is a gold dragon ? It's this grey list of abilities that catches my eyes.

One of the... I can't find the word, let's say "mistakes" of 4E was the idea that DMs and players just need rules and informations for combat, and can easily and naturally imagine and rule by themselves every other aspect of the game. More energy should have been spent on diplomatic encounters, investigation, etc - not because rules are needed, but because it would have inspired players and DMs to create more "non combat" situations, by "seeding" the idea in their minds.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
Funny you mention this, as I'm about to use one in my campaign.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I'd always have trouble using metallics in my game until Eberron came out. That setting pretty much eliminated any alignment assumptions, so my PCs learned the hard way not to trust them. The 4e metallic Draconomicon was a pretty interesting read; if I got to DM it again, I'd definitely throw in a few metallics for the party to interact with.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.

The entirety of the MM is placed there to be fought, its given stats to be fought, and its expected if you meet one of these critters you will fight them.  If it isn't ment to be fought, then you don't pull up stats for it.  This is also why you don't find good or always good critters (it's assumed the PCs won't fight good creatures in general by wizards).




This is, alas, true. Not because "they're in the MM", but because 4E chose to describe "monsters" (or NPCs) by their combat statistics, and to leave most of the rest to the DMs. It encourages DMs to think of creatures only as potential ennemies. Of course you don't have to use them only as this - but the way creatures are presented focuses the reader on fighting. It's more a problem of perception, in fact than everything else - wha is a gold dragon ? It's this grey list of abilities that catches my eyes.

One of the... I can't find the word, let's say "mistakes" of 4E was the idea that DMs and players just need rules and informations for combat, and can easily and naturally imagine and rule by themselves every other aspect of the game. More energy should have been spent on diplomatic encounters, investigation, etc - not because rules are needed, but because it would have inspired players and DMs to create more "non combat" situations, by "seeding" the idea in their minds.




If you actually read the DMG instead of TL;DR it, it's pretty clear that the statblocks and hard and fast rules are for the things that need to be clearly spelled out: combat and other conflicts (skill challenges). Roleplaying has less hard and fast rules, but they do go into length about them (in several books in the DM line now).

The skill challenge framework has a serious problem as conflict resolution because it's 'shaped' wrong for most situations. They actually are probably reasonable for a diplomatic type encounter: doing something wrong/poorly -can- burn bridges and harden your audience against your position until they're not really interested in hearing what you have to say anymore. But for a lot of things it should be shaped more like rounds (i.e. everyone has X chances to act, be it a roll or aid another or some power/ritual use to bypass a roll: if not enough success are earned in that time, then bad stuff happens) and some really aren't fitting for skill challenges (no real pressing time limit or such, should realistically take 20 on everything, aka handwave success). Some other situations might call for different 'shapes'. For example, an in-combat skill challenge may simply require X successes flat out, or give a round-by-round penalty for making no successes in addition, without actually needing to penalize failure explicitly. Or a tug-of-war type scenario where you have an adversary trying to undo your progress (not actually necessary to use dice for adversary, but say successes get undone each round, or something).

That's one area 5e can expand on. LFR already has, actually, and the 5e devs can look at some of those adventures for inspiration, along with things like Mearls' commentary on the subject.

Being overly formalized absolutely KILLS roleplaying, so it is something that needs to be kept fairly loose, and left to the DM + players. But definitely monsters don't need huge statblocks of roleplaying aspects. Fluff text can be helpful, but also risks being TL;DR.
I tend not to use good aligned dragons for two reasons.

1) I have never been all that fond of alignment to begin with, so I don't pay it much attention.

and

2) Conflict is at the heart of any good story, whether that conflict takes the shape of a fight or just plain conflicting goals and desires.  And having a dragon who is, at heart, a big scaley Boy Scout is far less conducive to that than one whose has some selfish motives that may conflict with what the group wants (unless the group is playing evil or at least highly mercenary charcters, which mine never is).  Thus, unaligned works better for me regardless of whether the group wants to fight it or just talk to it.
I tend not to use good aligned dragons for two reasons.

1) I have never been all that fond of alignment to begin with, so I don't pay it much attention.

and

2) Conflict is at the heart of any good story, whether that conflict takes the shape of a fight or just plain conflicting goals and desires.  And having a dragon who is, at heart, a big scaley Boy Scout is far less conducive to that than one whose has some selfish motives that may conflict with what the group wants (unless the group is playing evil or at least highly mercenary charcters, which mine never is).  Thus, unaligned works better for me regardless of whether the group wants to fight it or just talk to it.



You don't have to have alignment to have dragons who are nice to you.

Conflict is at the heart of any good story, but are you telling me you use no truly good people as NPCs?  Ever?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
 

You don't have to have alignment to have dragons who are nice to you.



Yeah, thus why I said I tend not to pay attention to alignment all that much.  You also don't need alignment to have a dragon who wants to kill you.

 Conflict is at the heart of any good story, but are you telling me you use no truly good people as NPCs?  Ever?



Depends on what you mean by 'truly good'.  If you mean 'basically kind, usually honest and not having any particular desire to cause anyone harm' then yes I do.  If you mean 'saintly, selfless, and without flaw' then I yes, I do go out of my way to avoid them.  Nobody likes a Mary Sue. Maybe its just a falw in the way I see alignment but I tend to picture the former as closer to 'unaligned' than the games definition of 'Good'.  



Yeah, you and I have a different version of what good-aligned means.

A 3.5 Paladin was pretty damn saintly and selfless...but that was a flaw.  The without flaw part seems to be something you're adding that I don't think is really there.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I tend not to use good aligned dragons for two reasons.

1) I have never been all that fond of alignment to begin with, so I don't pay it much attention.

and

2) Conflict is at the heart of any good story, whether that conflict takes the shape of a fight or just plain conflicting goals and desires.  And having a dragon who is, at heart, a big scaley Boy Scout is far less conducive to that than one whose has some selfish motives that may conflict with what the group wants (unless the group is playing evil or at least highly mercenary charcters, which mine never is).  Thus, unaligned works better for me regardless of whether the group wants to fight it or just talk to it.



Excellent points, both.
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It seems like this discussion has turned from "Good dragons?" to "Good npcs?"

That being said, I think people misunderstand what Lawful Good and Good mean, if they don't believe that their enemies can have those alignments. I mean, take for example a Good zealot who follows Pelor, for example, and introduce him to a small Good/Unaligned village where people aren't very devout, or maybe worship Melora. Even though it isn't strictly Good vs. Evil, there can still be tension and misunderstandings. Good people generally care for others, but that doesn't mean that they all share the same goals.

With draconic NPCs, even a Lawful Good silver dragon can decide that it would be a good idea to eat most of the cattle from the nearby farms, because it doesn't have the same priorities as the farmers do. They don't have to have a perfectly logical or sane reason to do things, especially since their minds work differently. 
It seems like this discussion has turned from "Good dragons?" to "Good npcs?"



Same thing.  Every creature controlled by the DM is an NPC.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
It seems like this discussion has turned from "Good dragons?" to "Good npcs?"



Same thing.  Every creature controlled by the DM is an NPC.



Yep, and I can think of nothing applicable to the alignment of dragons that isn't applicable to the alignment of NPCs in general.

The entirety of the MM is placed there to be fought, its given stats to be fought, and its expected if you meet one of these critters you will fight them.


Two out of three ain't bad.

The last statement is where you fall off the tracks. Instead, "it's expected if you meet one of these critters that combat is a possibility." Because honestly, we've all had players run off and do crazy things. "I attack the powerful and friendly dragon" is a reaction that should be on the DM's radar, regardless of edition.

I like the change from good to unaligned, really. Not because I feel it has freed me to use metallic dragons in adversarial roles, but because now I don't have to deal with the monster rules-lawyers as much.
Actually, everything in the MM IS meant to be fought.  Because if you aren't going to fight it, then the things that the MM shows, like AC and how much damage it does when it bites you, are 100% irrelevant.
Actually, everything in the MM IS meant to be fought.  Because if you aren't going to fight it, then the things that the MM shows, like AC and how much damage it does when it bites you, are 100% irrelevant.



I wouldn't say it is meant to be fought just because it provides all of that.  It just means that if it is fought you can know what the players are up against without having to make all of that up yourself.  Any NPC I build that I think there is any chance of my players deciding to fight has a similar stat block.  Take a look at the Keep of the shadowfell adventure.  Sir Keegan has all the same stats written up for the adventure.  He isn't really meant to be fought.  He is supposed to provide a skill challenge for the PCs.  The monster block is there incase the PCs don't realize this.  A quote from the adventure book:

"Sir Keegan’s behavior depends entirely on how the adventurers



react to him. His first statement should be a strong



hint that he is not meant to be treated as an adversary."

Clearly this shows that the presence of a stat block does not mean that a creature is meant to be fought.

Actually, everything in the MM IS meant to be fought.  Because if you aren't going to fight it, then the things that the MM shows, like AC and how much damage it does when it bites you, are 100% irrelevant.


Depends on the campaign. Everything in the MM is supposed to be fightable.
I think with chromatic dragons, they do bad things just because they are evil and horrible. With metallics, I think they have to have solid reason to do bad things, which makes it harder to work them into an adventure. Also, most players expect metallic dragons to be good, or at least not evil.

So I think just as a chromatic could act in a good way for its own interest, a metallic could behave evilly if circumstances happened that way.

I think it would be unusual for PCs to battle a metallic, but not unheard of. I would expect an intriguing story to back it up.

Being overly formalized absolutely KILLS roleplaying, so it is something that needs to be kept fairly loose, and left to the DM + players. But definitely monsters don't need huge statblocks of roleplaying aspects. Fluff text can be helpful, but also risks being TL;DR.


From personal experience, I would say that the more a rulebook speaks about other kind of interactions/obstacles than mere fighting, the more the players tend to interest themselves in these situations. I think it is a psychological thing ( rather, I am sure of it) : you tend to play (and role play) with what the rulebook put in your mind first. With experience at the table, you'll tend to play according to what you lived at the table, or what you've read in novels or seen in movies, but at first, your are in the mindset that reading the rules put you into.
I understand the point of view of 4E designers : players need more rules and clarification on combat, because they can build the role playing part themselves. But combat then becomes the thing that your mind is focused on when you read the books, and it becomes an obstacle to other "styles" of play. Not because the game can't be "role played", but because you tend to focus on the things the books talk about. It's a perception issue.
Maybe having a "personality" block, or "uses" block for each ennemy , with an eye catching layout (like the stat blocks) could have helped. A list of character traits, or kind of out of combat situations and behaviors, could have helped both DMs and players to wrap their mind around the idea that dragons, for instance, can also be talked to, bargained with, entertained, etc. Would not have changed much, but would have given ideas and mental images "seeding" the mind of players for a wider game experience.
Something like what the designers did with terrain : talk abot it a lot, provide some simple rules (terrain powers), etc, and suddenly terrain becomes more important than before in the mind of DMs and players.

I know it may sound silly. But I really think (after reading dozens and dozens of rule books, for RPGs, video games or board games) that this kind of ... let's say "widening" of the writing, especially if it includes simple rules or advices on how it can be played/resolved, is beneficial to the game and its users.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
I think with chromatic dragons, they do bad things just because they are evil and horrible. With metallics, I think they have to have solid reason to do bad things, which makes it harder to work them into an adventure. Also, most players expect metallic dragons to be good, or at least not evil.

So I think just as a chromatic could act in a good way for its own interest, a metallic could behave evilly if circumstances happened that way.

I think it would be unusual for PCs to battle a metallic, but not unheard of. I would expect an intriguing story to back it up.



Or, its species could be utterly irrelevant to its moral and ethical decisions.

What a concept.
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Sorry, I'm a metallic-dragons-are-good kind of guy. It's more of a throwback to 3.5 when the issue of good dragons was less contestable, but I see no reason to change my perspective. As far as I'm concerned, they're mostly sworn protectors of the land and defenders of human(oid)ity.

Having said that, I enjoy pitting parties against good-aligned (but misguided or overly-vindictive) enemies. It elicits the same moral awkwardness as putting a bundle of goblin babies in front of them, and I think that if a fight should arise against a good dragon, it should be as a result of conflicting plans for good, a grievous misunderstanding (or mistake; no dragon bears an insult), or something similar.

~The Chilli God Has Spoken.

Actually, everything in the MM IS meant to be fought.  Because if you aren't going to fight it, then the things that the MM shows, like AC and how much damage it does when it bites you, are 100% irrelevant.


Depends on the campaign. Everything in the MM is supposed to be fightable.




Okay, I suppose I'll buy that way of putting it.
I think with chromatic dragons, they do bad things just because they are evil and horrible. With metallics, I think they have to have solid reason to do bad things, which makes it harder to work them into an adventure. Also, most players expect metallic dragons to be good, or at least not evil.

So I think just as a chromatic could act in a good way for its own interest, a metallic could behave evilly if circumstances happened that way.

I think it would be unusual for PCs to battle a metallic, but not unheard of. I would expect an intriguing story to back it up.



Or, its species could be utterly irrelevant to its moral and ethical decisions.

What a concept.




Yep.

I know the concept of 'all beings of this particular species are good' (or evil) is a comon fantasy trope.  But its one that I have never cared for and avoid in my games. 
Yep.

I know the concept of 'all beings of this particular species are good' (or evil) is a comon fantasy trope.  But its one that I have never cared for and avoid in my games. 



*HighFive*
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Good dragons also make strange questgivers, cause you always need a reason why they just don't do it themselves.
It seems to me that in almost every game I've been a player in these days, metallic dragons are often depicted as only slightly less evil than their chromatic counterparts. In the last game I DM'd the players became extremely wary around a Lawful Good gold dragon that genuinely wanted to help the PCs fight against an entrenched cult of Tiamat in Skuld (Mulhorand was not destroyed in my Faerun). And I can count other times when I would introduce a metallic dragon and the PCs would either attack it on sight or be overly cautious with them.

Would it seem that Good-aligned metallic dragons are dwindling in games these days?

My homebrew setting has lots of dragons in it, of all sorts of colors. Mostly dragons don't spend a lot of time worrying about mortal affairs though. The good ones may 'keep humans' sort of like we herd cattle. They're nice enough about it, but humans are clearly not in the same league with dragons as far as the dragons are concerned. Some of the most noble of dragons may ally with say a powerful dwarf kingdom and treat them with respect, but you never know what the plans of a dragon are or what it needs or wants.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Good dragons also make strange questgivers, cause you always need a reason why they just don't do it themselves.

Eh, I have never had a problem with THAT. I mean imagine you're a 10,000 year old Gold Dragon. Sure, you're almost as powerful as some of the weaker gods, but that doesn't mean you can be everywhere at once. There are plenty of jobs that are just not worth your attention or better performed by someone else. You've got a lot going on, you're busy, you have servants, errr... allies, for stuff. And then there's always that critical job that you COULD do, but then it would all get too complicated. Best not to draw too much attention to the artifact's resting place. Send a few adventurers to check it out. They're disposable. Maybe they'll bring the thing back, and maybe they won't, but little lost either way. If you go yourself, well, then you'll have your enemies wondering why the heck you're mucking around there and trouble will show up.

Beyond that, not all dragons are all-powerful, there's a Mercury Dragon in my current campaign that is only a young dragon, but it has interests to forward, and in many cases those interests involve mucking with enemies that might be kind of hazardous to confront. Why risk your valuable neck when you're going to live for 5 or 10 millennia? Just hire some chumps to go deal with it. 
That is not dead which may eternal lie